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The Hornets – Heavier Than A Stone

The Hornets
Heavier Than A Stone
by kenn staub at 05 September 2021, 4:51 PM

THE HORNETS, comprised of the brothers Francia (guitarist Stefano and bassist Alberto), a neighborhood friend (guitarist Giovanni Artioli), and a later added drummer (Andrea Rovituso), formed in September 2016; coming together almost out of boredom, for fun, for leisure, to get out of the usual work routine, to give voice to some love failures, to flip off a bad day, and to escape from other musical projects. After spending a rigorous year in the rehearsal room, the four lads from Italy recorded their debut album “Heavier Than A Stone” in November 2020 (releasing it July 16, 2021). Making use of the members’ musical experiences gained through participation in other projects, “Heavier Than A Stone” emerged without thinking too much about style or sound. Rather, the songs on the album were intended to be spontaneous, simple, and clean; the guitars and drums leaving room for melodic lines and atypically felt lyrics that tell a story, an episode, or reality experienced firsthand.

I was hooked on THE HORNETS and “Heavier Than A Stone” from the opener, “Don’t Talk About Love;” an uptempo, toe-tapper with a solid guitar solo that evokes RICK SPRINGFIELD on the “Working Class Dog” album. “Female Creed” has a new wave feel. It features a neat guitar line leading into the choruses and an enjoyable bridge sitting between the last verse and final chorus.

Superman (Nietzsche)” begins with a fuzzy, ZZ TOP-like guitar before taking on a 1950s vibe, which is especially evident on the guitar solo. The 1950s and rockabilly theme continues on “Get Out (..Baby Get Out!).” The drum break at the midpoint is very likeable, while the keyboards running throughout the track, including a solo toward the end, are a perfect accompaniment to the guitar-bass-drum triumvirate. I must admit to feeling that the song’s two false finishes disrupt its flow.

Fighting Man,” especially the way it’s sung, seems like an homage to the classic ROLLING STONES’ sound, though overall, perhaps, a little lighter. “The Best” is another track whose tonality conjures up the British Invasion. For the first time I could really hear Alberto Francia’s bass contribution to the band, his playing tending to get lost amongst the sound of the guitars and drums on most other tracks. Jangly guitars open the rocker “1997,” putting me in mind of early TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS. The guitar solo is the most complex of the album.

My favorite track is the album’s penultimate number, “Rockstar’s Syndrome.” The extended, repeating, guitar-based line that starts the track really sets the stage for what comes. This is helped along by the drumming behind the dense rhythm, especially as the guitar solo approaches; which features Stefano Francia and Giovanni Artioli trading licks before combining to take the track out in tandem. First-rate all the way.

The album closes with the hardest number of the collection, “Not So Easy. A solid riff is abetted by the bass playing, which once again comes more to the fore. The call and response chorus is catchy. As the song progresses, however, it loses some of its structure; sacrificing a degree of tightness as it becomes akin to a meandering jam.

True to their intent, THE HORNETS deliver a stripped-down, energetic 32 minutes of guitar-based pop-rock on “Heavier Than A Stone.” For lack of a better descriptor, it’s a bright album, a feeling of joy coming through in its “do it yourself” sensibility. Changing lead vocalists keep things interesting and the guitar playing is a highlight. I’d be remiss if I didn’t extend kudos to Andrea Rovituso, who’s drumming constitutes the backbone of each track, setting the pace and driving things forward.

In the short time since receiving “Heavier Than A Stone” for review, I’ve listened to it no less than five times. The first two critically, the other three simply because I thought it was fun. It’s a “pick me up”-type of album that invariably made me smile each time I heard it. In today’s day and age, saying something elicits happiness is just about the one of the highest compliments that I think can be given.

Musicianship: 9
Songwriting: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Don’t Talk About Love
2. Female Creed
3. Superman (Nietzsche)
4. Get Out (..Baby Get Out!)
5. Fighting Man
6. The Best
7. 1997
8. Rockstar’s Syndrome
9. Not So Easy
Stefano Francia – Guitar, Vocals
Alberto Francia – Bass, Vocals
Giovanni Artioli – Guitar, Vocals
Andrea Rovituso – Drums
Record Label: Go Down Records


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Edited 16 September 2021

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